Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Fallacies of Federal Union. (continued) (1940)

From the April 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Federal Union and War
In our last issue we examined the claim that a Federal Union would put an end to wars.

Briefly stated, these are the conclusions we reached : —

The supporters of Federal Union ignore or pay too little attention to the profit-making nature of capitalism. Under capitalism it is for profit that goods are produced, and it is so that profits may be realised by the sale of goods in the world market that rivalries and armed conflicts arise between states.

The struggle for markets makes impossible a Federal Union of world-wide scope, though this same struggle, growing more and more keen, may lead certain states to join forces, even form a Federal Union, so as to compete more successfully against others. Such a Federal Union, however, could not end war; it would cause rival states to co-operate more closely. Wars would not be at an end, but would become more widespread and more highly organised.

For this reason, therefore, the workers ought not to support Federal Union. On the contrary, their duty is to go to the root of the trouble and abolish, as quickly as possible, capitalism, with its private ownership and production for profit, for it is this which gives rise to the struggle for world trade, conflicts and wars. The workers’ duty is to establish Socialism—a system of society wherein goods will be produced, not for sale, not for profit, but solely for use.

Propaganda for Federal Union contains many other fallacies, some of which we will now discuss.

Prosperity—But for Whom ?
Raymond O’Malley, in his “Peace and Prosperity” writes: “The Union would offer the best conditions for trade and prosperity the world has ever known” (p. 6).

This prosperity would be brought about largely by the establishment of Free Trade and a single monetary unit within the Union. Says Clarence K. Streit: “It is self-evident that you and I would live an easier and a richer life if through half the world we could do business with one money and postage, if through half the world we were free to buy in the cheapest market what we need to buy and free to sell in the dearest market what we have to sell” (“Federal Union,” p. 32).

The S.P.G.B. estimates the value of any proposition from the working-class point of view, AND WE SAY OUTRIGHT THAT FREE TRADE AND THE DEMAND FOR A SINGLE MONETARY UNIT ARE OF NO CONCERN TO THE WORKING CLASS.

Mr. Streit should remember that the worker has only ONE commodity to sell, and that is his power to work. This he sells (if he can obtain employment) to a capitalist. Usually he is in no position to pick and choose his market or his capitalist. Owning no property and no means of life, threatened by starvation, he has to accept any employment he can get. The capitalist buys the worker’s one commodity, labour-power, just as he buys any other. On the average the cost of production of the labour-power determines the price (wages) the capitalist pays for it. Hence, broadly speaking, wages are just sufficient to keep the worker fit for work and to enable him to produce future wage-workers. THIS IS A LAW OF CAPITALISM, and its truth is demonstrated by hard facts the world over. It is true in small capitalist states and in big capitalist states. It was true in England in the days of free trade, and it is true in these days of tariff barriers. Furthermore, IT WOULD BE TRUE IF WE HAD A FEDERAL UNION, since the size of the economic unit could not alter the exploitation of its wage slaves by capitalism. Although the United States of America is a Federal Union (the model of the federalists), and although there is free trade within that Union, the American worker is in the same position as his fellow in Britain and elsewhere. In return for his labour-power, he is given wages adequate only to exist and reproduce his kind. This is not the fault of the federal system of the U.S.A., nor of free trade, but of capitalism.

The adoption of a single monetary unit by the whole world would, like the introduction of free trade, and for the same reason, leave the position of the worker untouched.

The worker’s prosperity will come only when he abolishes the wages system.

Less Taxation—What Then ?
Since, under capitalism, the wages of a worker are on the average just sufficient to enable him to carry on his work more or less efficiently, it follows that taxes are not his concern. Whether taxes are high or low, he will still be faced with all the evils that accompany poverty, e.g., unemployment, malnutrition, disease and slum-dwellings.

We are, therefore, not filled with enthusiasm when the advocates of Federal Union promise us reduced taxation (see Mr. Chaning-Pearce’s “Federation of the Free,” p. 5). Nor can we do other than smile at Mr. Curry’s childlike innocence when he writes: “Think of the inroads on poverty, ignorance and disease that could be made with those thousands of millions we are spending on armaments” (“The Case for Federal Union,” p. 78).

“WE,” Mr. Cuny, receive wages which just enable us to eke out an existence. It is the capitalist class, fat with superfluous wealth, that is spending the millions on armaments.

It would be very interesting to know upon what grounds Mr. Curry bases his belief that if the capitalists paid less in taxation and for armaments they would spend the money thus saved in improving our standard of life.

Bad conditions among the workers do not exist because the capitalist class is impoverished either by heavy taxation or otherwise. As a matter of fact, in spite of taxation, the capitalist class is getting wealthier and wealthier. This is because the means of production which the capitalists own turn out wealth in ever-growing abundance. Even when the capitalist class has so much wealth piled up in the form of goods that no market for them can be found, the goods are burnt or thrown to rats rather than freely distributed among the starving workers. (This happens even in that federal union, the U.S.A. !) And why is this seemingly idiotic policy pursued ? Because capitalism is not a charity institution, but a system of society which is run so that profits may accrue to the few.

Again, not long ago the British capitalist class was forcing down wages on the grounds that, unless reductions were made, it could not afford to carry on. Yet, soon afterwards, when its privileged position is threatened by a rival section of the same class, it can pour out money like water on preparing the war machine and putting it into motion.

In the face of these facts, it is evident that the reduction in taxation promised by Federal Union would benefit the capitalist class but would not bring any change to the poverty-stricken workers.

Freedom of Movement
Federal Union, we are told, would enable us to travel freely within the Union, without passports and the frequent opening of bags at frontiers.

“We should wander as freely over the whole world as now Americans wander over America” (W. B. Curry’s “Case for Federal Union,” p. 80)

It would be interesting to know if the American workers appreciate this boon that the Federal Union of the U.S.A. bestows on them.

Actually the American worker is very much like his fellow in other lands. He cannot afford to trave to any extent.

Passports and frontier inconveniences are of little concern to the working class.

Who is Free?
We have already shown how little the supporters of Federal Union understand the position and needs of our class. It is due to their ignorance of the working of the capitalist system that so man of their promises are extravagant. This ignorance, however, when it hides or tends to hide bitter fact is dangerous to working-class interests.

Mr. Chaning-Pearce writes: “To the tyranny of totalitarianism the only adequate reply is the federation of the free.”

The impression that Mr. Chaning-Pearce wish to give, namely, that in democratic states all are free, is false.

In any capitalist state, totalitarian or otherwis the bulk of the population occupies a slave position. The working class, the majority in any capitalist state, is dependent on the capitalist class for the means of life. The worker is free in one sense FREE FROM PROPERTY, but this kind of freedom forces him to work for the owning class, forces him to keep the capitalist class in idleness and luxury, whilst he himself, who toils with brawn and brain, must live in poverty.

So long as this compulsion lasts, the worker is not free, he is a wage-slave, and that, irrespective of the form of government prevailing in the state wherein he lives his drab life.

Not till the world belongs to the workers will our class be free.

Mr. Chaning-Pearce should ponder over this speech, made by a representative of American capital, at the time when the federal form of government was being worked out. John Adams said : “It is of no consequence by what name you call your people, whether by that of freeman or of slave. In some countries the labouring poor are CALLED freemen, in others they are called slaves, but the difference is imaginary only. What matters it whether a landlord employing ten labourers on his farm gives them annually as much as will buy the necessities of life or gives them those necessities at short hand?” (Quoted by Simons in his “Class Struggles in America.”)

Before concluding our article, we warn the workers that any time spent by them in advocating Federal Union would be, from their point of view, time wasted. Working-class salvation is bound up with Socialism, which the workers will have to establish sooner or later. When they establish Socialism they will abolish all those evils which their masters and reformers are always going to end, but never do : war, unemployment and poverty.

To chase after Federal Union, WHICH after all (if realised) WILL LEAVE THE WORKERS IN PRECISELY THE SAME SLAVE POSITION AS THEY OCCUPY TO-DAY, is to delay the day of emancipation.

We do not doubt lhat many supporters of Federal Union are sincere in believing they have found the key to happiness. A few words of warning to them, therefore.

It may happen that if the idea of Federal Union becomes widely accepted the capitalist class will use it to further their own material interests.

Beware, federalists! Perhaps at some future date the British Government would be willing to support (even if only temporarily) a Federal Union of the European states against America, or perhaps a Federal Union of, say, England, France, Germany (without Hitler and Co.) and the Scandinavian countries against Russia.

It must not be forgotten that in 1930 the representatives of many governments opposed the French Memorandum on a European Federal Union on the grounds that such a Union would tend to accentuate inter-continental rivalries. Behind the idea of a United States of Europe there existed a strong opposition to America. (See Sir Arthur Salter’s “The United States of Europe.”)

It remains for us to discuss another fallacy of the advocates of Federal Union; their misunderstanding of Socialism. This will be done in our next article.
Clifford Allen

The Croupiers and the Faro Wheel. (1940)

From the April 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Throughout the political system of British capitalism, with its amazing fluidity, its shifts of front and of allegiance, and its apparent contradictions, runs one clear thread: the idea that there are insiders and outsiders.

So says “The Unofficial Observer,” in his work, “Our Lords and Masters.”

The “outsiders” may get the best jobs, if it suits the purpose of the “insiders,” but they can never determine policy.

For behind and beyond the British political scene there is a superior force, which assigns values, which enumerates—or rather takes for granted—”the things no feller can do,” which pulls the wires and decides events. With Americans that power has been the business and financial community, with its tradition of general corruption and its innocent conviction that individual greed is the yardstick of social utility. That such is not the case in Great Britain can be proved at a single glance at the leaders of British industry and banking. Where American bankers oppose and criticise, where American steel magnates defy Governmental labour legislation, where American oil companies have juggled with administration after administration, British industry and finance work hand and glove with British government. It has taken some consideration above the holding of political office and the fattening of the pocket-book to accomplish this result. There are “insiders” in British business as well as politics. Why?

Snobbishness is what helps to make the wheels go round and induces the lamb to go to bed with the lion on the breakfast-for-two basis. For four hundred years the British social system has been elaborating itself until it has become the most potent force in British life. “There has been no ‘free and equal’ nonsense about it. Great Britain has been governed by a privileged caste of aristocrats, whose morale has been high and whose purpose has been plain—to keep themselves and their country on top of the pile.”

This aristocracy has been open to birth and to wealth. You can be born to the purple, or buy it. So for generation after generation society has set the standards that others try to follow and has renewed itself from vigorous and successful men of every age ; ”The Victorian manufacturers, the merchant adventurers and Indian ‘nabobs’ of the eighteenth century, and the historians, artists, poets, scientists and authors of all generations have all seen as the reward of success the patent of nobility.”

“An aristocracy of birth, an aristocracy of wealth, and an aristocracy of brains when combined constitute a formidable society. When they follow the same standards set by the aristocracy of birth and fortified by a system of privilege, they are irresistible. In England Babbit knows that his place is at the tradesmen’s entrance rather than at the front door unless he ‘plays the game,’ whose rules are set by British society. That is the secret of British power.”

The question before this war was can England recapture her old world-wide predominance in economic affairs ? The Bank of England, that powerful organisation, under its influential Governor, Montagu Collet Norman, is one instrument now being used to work towards this end. It exemplifies the baffling fusion in England of the same interests which have led to the incompatible dualism of Wall Street and Washington in America.

Mr. Norman’s biographer has called him “the greatest statesman in Great Britain since the war.” As head of the Bank which directs the financial destinies of half the world Mr. Norman has perhaps enjoyed more power than any individual of his generation. He it was who brought the country back to the gold standard in 1925 and moved heaven and earth to keep it there. Between 1923 and 1925 the Bank of England, acting in close and informal co-operation with the Foreign Office, extended credits to a number of central banks in foreign countries and brought most of Europe on what is known as the gold exchange standard. This, by fixing the export value of goods in terms of a single stable commodity, both protected British manufacturers from competition in terms of depreciated foreign money and also assured British exporters with reliable means of payment for their wares.

In the realm of high politics, the Bank’s credits to Germany stabilised Central European conditions, prevented the mark from repeating its nose-dive of 1923 and thus sought to ward off radical upheaval, as well as reconstituting the European balance of power. Thanks to Mr. Norman’s efforts at that time the international gold standard was fully re-established and functioned smoothly from the time the franc was stabilised in 1926 until the disastrous summer of 1931.

The blending of business with diplomacy, however, led to disaster. Mr. Norman’s Central European loans may have been made for political reasons, but they were made at interest rates which accurately reflected the business risk. As it worked out, the Bank of England, not being in business for its health, borrowed money from France at 3 per cent, and reloaned it to Germany at 6 per cent. The Germans, in turn, reloaned some of this money to Austria and Hungary at still higher rates of interest. When the collapse of international wheat prices robbed the Danubian countries of their power to pay, the result was a chain of failures, which ran from Rothschild Bank in Vienna—the Credit-Anstalt—through the German “Big D” banks to the Bank of England, and when the French in their inconvenient way asked to have their money back England went off the gold standard with a bang.

Another “Wizard of Finance,” however, is to be found in Germany, Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greely Schacht, the Nazi Finance Director, the originator of the German confidence game, by which the Allies and America allowed their own cupidity to cheat themselves.

The first step in this game was the inflation of the German mark after the war. German marks were purchased by eager speculators in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Switzerland and New York long after they had become patently worthless. In this way Germany acquired foreign exchange at little or no cost to herself and thus compelled the international bankers to apply the Dawes Plan in 1924, which relieved Germany of much of the burden of reparations by providing a new racket.

This time the racket was in German industrial bonds. These were sold to foreign investors—largely American—and their proceeds eventually were used to pay German reparations. This cost the Germans nothing except interest on bonds for a while, gave the Allies their financial pound of flesh, paid commissions to the international bankers and, best of all, gave the British and American investing public a stake in Germany’s economic prosperity. When investments ran dry, the Germans borrowed short-term funds from British and American banks. Finally, the depression made this impossible, Germany stopped paying reparations and refused to pay back either long-term loans or short-term debts. The American bankers showed their true colours—bright yellow—by offering to sacrifice American investors, if only the banking loans were paid, but by this time Schacht knew he had command of the situation. By its holdings of foreign exchange and by other special controls the Reichsbank had accumulated such large stocks of raw materials that it was able to pass through the difficult winter of 1934-1935 far better than any other country.

Since then Schacht has taken advantage of every crisis Hitler has brought about to bring off barter deals; the game, however, became played out and a naked smash and grab raid was the only way Germany could keep going.

We can now understand her cries of encirclement and her desperate moves to avert the catastrophe the Nazi policy forced upon Germany by capitalist development and the greed of her rivals make inevitable.

The attempt to get capitalism to sail on an even keel after the war of 1914-18 failed. The economic problems confronting the world after the present war is over will be beyond the powers of Montagu Norman, Schacht, and Morgan of the United States.

The firm of J. P. Morgan & Co. is a group of private moneylenders, whose principal office is at 23, Wall Street, New York City, and which has important affiliations in Boston, Philadelphia, Paris and London. The Morgan firm controls (not owns) between a quarter and a third of the organised wealth of the United States, being especially powerful in rails, steel, chemicals and the heavy industries generally. It owes its existence to the opportunities for profiteering in the Civil War and attained its present world-wide importance as Fiscal Agent for the British and French Governments during the period of American “neutrality” in the last world war. “At this time the Morgan firm established the technique of using American money to ‘pay’ for British purchases of American goods, which later flowered in the lavish War Debts and the post-war American loans to the European countries. This practice is an invaluable asset to the British Government, and the relations of the Morgan firm with that Government can only be described as ‘extraordinarily intimate.’ To a very considerable extent Morgan is America and Morgan is the informal viceroy of the British Crown in its American Dominion.”

The spider of Wall Street is an episcopalian —it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye than for a Jew or a Catholic to enter the firm of J. P. Morgan.

It was the house of Morgan and its associate firms in London and Paris which was responsible for swinging large-scale international transactions during the last world war. “When foreign exchanges were dislocated and the credit of the City of New York was jeopardised by inability to meet obligations of 80 million dollars maturing in London and Paris, the city authorities appealed to Morgan, who quickly organised a bankers’ syndicate, which raised the needful. The Allied purchases of war supplies and foodstuffs were cleared through the Morgan firm as fiscal agents for France and Great Britain on decidedly profitable terms. To facilitate this activity they first established export departments headed by Edward R. Shellinius, with a staff of nearly two hundred engineers, manufacturers and experts. Two thousand five hundred million dollars’ worth of food and materials were purchased in this way, thus creating an American economic stake in Allied victory, sustained by a series of commercial credits totalling 1,550,000,000 dollars. This credit was floated through the Morgan banks, after being negotiated by a joint French and British commission.”

The ruling class of Britain may hope during the present war that Morgan will eventually swing things their way again, as he did during the last blood bath. Americans may reiterate again and again that under no circumstances will she allow herself to be involved. When the time comes for American aid to be essential to victory the United States is likely to line up with whosoever Morgan decrees she shall support. So much for democracy under capitalism.

The political victory of the British and French Governments in the present conflict can be anticipated, but the results from an economic standpoint will be barren. The world struggle for markets will not have ceased but will be intensified.

As for the future of the human race, everything depends upon the knowledge possessed by the working class. Not least in Britain, the United States and the western world. We are building better than we realise. The common ownership of the means of life, production for use and the elimination of all profit will be an economic necessity after the war if society is to advance.
Charles Lestor

SPGB Meetings and Lectures. (1940)

Party News from the April 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Fallacies of Federal Union. (1940)

From the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Warning to the Workers
After the war (1914—18), many members of the working class wasted much of their time and energy in supporting the League of Nations. They thought that, at last, a way to end war had been devised. The socialist warning went unheeded. We pointed out that the League of Nations was bound to fail, since it did not put an end to the real causes of war: —the intense struggle for world trade which capitalism forces upon rival sections of the capitalist class. We urged then, as we do now, that the only way to peace is to get rid of these rivalries which are inherent in capitalism, by abolishing capitalism itself, and by establishing a new social order—socialism.

Again we issue a warning to our fellow workers, for again there is a possibility of their being led up a blind alley in another futile quest for permanent peace. This time the blind alley is FEDERAL UNION. Like the League of Nations, it will, if supported, bring to the workers bitter disillusionment and will direct them away from the path they must finally tread—the path of uncompromising opposition to capitalism.

Federal Union—A Dangerous Utopia
According to the advocates of Federal Union, “the essential root of our trouble is nationalism in the hearts of ordinary men reduced to a political system which constantly inflames that nationalism.” (Mr. Lionel Curtis in an address given at Oxford, September 23rd, 1939.) This “excessive nationalism,” Federalists say, must be curbed by a federation of states. They urge that at first the democratic states ought to federate. Such a federation, they claim, would bring peace, since any attack against it would from the outset be sure of failure. (Clarence K. Streit’sFederal Union,” p. 25.) Later, it is thought, other states would join, until finally the federation would be world-wide.

The whole idea is Utopian, and, from the working class point of view, dangerous.

It is Utopian because in capitalist society a world federation of states has not the slightest chance of ever being made to function harmoniously.

It is dangerous for the working class because it will not only waste their time but may even lead to greater and greater wars.

Why Federal Union Will Not Work
In his book, “The Case for Federal Union,” W. B. Curry writes: — “The World is not politically or psychologically a society, but economically and technically it is already one community ” (p. 23). This is typical of the way the supporters of Federal Union refuse to get to the bottom of things. Moreover, this is one of the false premises upon which their plan is based : they argue that since the world is economically one unit, logically we ought to have one political unit.

Unfortunately for the federalists, THE WORLD IS NOT ECONOMICALLY ONE COMMUNITY.

It is true that to an ever-increasing extent the different parts of the world are becoming more and more dependent on each other for vital necessities of life. It is true that capitalism, as it spreads to every corner of the globe, breaks down national barriers and creates, or tends to create, similar conditions the world over. Still, capitalism itself, though in some respects a uniting force, prevents the world from being or becoming “economically one community.” It prevents this in the following ways:—

First, in capitalist society, there are TWO CLASSES, and between these two classes a persistent struggle and clash of interests. The capitalist class owns the means of production and distribution and employs the working class which, being propertyless, must work for the advantage of the owners, i.e., to produce profits for them. Over the questions of wages and working conditions, the capitalists and workers are in constant conflict. This class struggle, evident within every capitalist state, is ignored or dismissed as unimportant by the federalists. However, so long as it continues to exist the world cannot possibly become one community.

Furthermore, in capitalist society owing to the existence of private property and the consequent production of goods SOLELY for profit, the world is one big jumble of conflicting capitalist interests. 

Wars are the result of these conflicting interests.

Capitalism is by nature competitive and monopolistic. Different sections of the capitalist class—which to prosper must make profits—compete with each other to obtain monopolies of markets, monopolies of raw materials and monopolies of fields for investments. It is partly for the purpose of protecting or furthering these capitalist interests that the gigantic armed forces of the states exist; and the great powers annex territories, not so that the vanquished natives may benefit, but so that the interests of their capitalists can be developed without interference.

If, as often happens, the flow of profits going to capitalists is interfered with by competing sections of the capitalist class, quarrels break out, and, when other means fail, it is by force that differences are settled.

Developing capitalism has led to the growth of international trusts and rings, but this has not diminished the rivalries between groups of capitalists. On the contrary, it has led to an intensification of those rivalries, for now capitalists of different nationalities work together in exploiting spheres of influence in order that a firmer monopoly may be obtained to the disadvantage of rival groups.

Advocates of Federal Union would do well to remember also that, as time goes on, the competition for markets becomes keener and keener. In recent years, countries which were formerly markets for certain goods are now themselves producing the same goods in such abundance that they too are exporting them, trying to find markets. In recent decades, we have seen the growth of capitalism in Japan, Turkey, and a score of smaller states.

Therefore, this is the position. Though more and more goods are produced for sale, the markets for some of them grow less and less. The result is obvious : a greater struggle between rival sections of the capitalist class for markets where profits can be realised.

It is this commercial rivalry which causes states to set up tariff barriers, which inspires the “We must export or die” pleas of the German and British ministers.

In short, markets are necessary for the well-being and prosperity of any section of the capitalist class. This being so, it is evident that the federalists will have an enormous task to persuade the “have” powers to place non-self-governing dependencies under the control of an international commission of ALL states. (See “The Case for Federal Union,” p. 191.)

The capitalist class and their representatives realise how dependent they are on markets. Marshal Foch, during the Great War, admitted that the struggle for markets was an important cause of war. He said : —
“What do we all seek ? New outlets for an ever-increasing- commerce and for industries which, producing far more than they can consume or sell, are constantly hampered by an increasing competition. And then ? Why ! New areas for trade are cleared by cannon shot.”— (United Service Magazine, December, 1918.)
The late Lord Brentford, too, who was the Conservative Home Secretary, 1924-28, once stated in very definite terms that for markets capitalist states are prepared to go to war. During a speech, he said :—
“We did not conquer India for the benefit of the Indians. I know it is said at missionary meetings that we conquered India to raise the level of the Indians. That is cant. We conquered India as the outlet for the goods of Great Britain. We conquered India by the sword, and by the sword we shall hold it.”
Mr. Curry, in his “Case for Federal Union,” mentions the rivalry between states caused by conflicting capitalist interests. We suggest to him that he give more attention to this; he will then talk less glibly about the world being “economically one community” and about “substituting international government for international anarchy.”

The Blind Alley
When production is carried on for the SOLE PURPOSE OF PROFITS as it is to-day, powers which hold colonies or have spheres of influence where raw materials are available or where there are valuable markets for products, will be very loath to give up their monopolies over them. After all, to do so would perhaps mean a serious reduction in the profits going to the sections of the capitalist class they represent and the enrichment of rival groups.

Capitalism FORCES this “cut-throat competition,” this struggle for spheres of influence upon the different sections of the capitalist class.

It is, therefore, capitalism which gives rise to wars, not that abstraction Mr. Curtis spoke of: — “nationalism in the hearts of ordinary men.”

Federal Union does not attempt to get rid of the deep-rooted clashes of interests, inherent in capitalism. It does not aim at ending private property and production for profit. Struggles for markets, for raw materials, would still persist, therefore, even if a Federal Union were to be formed, and even if federalists would wish it to be otherwise.

What Federal Union aims to do is to try to curb these rivalries by having a larger political unit.

It may be that with the development of capitalism and the growth of international trusts, some form of very close co-operation between certain states will result. However, were this co-operation to take the form of a federation of those states which, for the moment, found their economic interests more or less in line, it would be no victory for peace.

We have shown that a world federation is out of the question. Rival capitalist interests prevent that. A Federal Union of only a number of states would lead to the formation of rival federations, or to closer co-operation on the part of other states. The struggle for world trade would necessitate that. Federal Union offers, therefore, not peace, but more intense rivalries AND GREATER WARS.

Although federalists offer their scheme as a means of ending war, they themselves are doubtful about the success it would have. And so in Streit’s proposed constitution, he suggests the machinery which would carry on war if Federal Union were established. He writes:—”The Union shall have the sole right to deal with foreign governments, provide for the Union’s defence, raise, maintain and control standing land, sea and air forces, make peace and war. …”

Furthermore, it is admitted by Mr. Curry that war might break out within the Federal Union itself. This is indeed very likely, for capitalist interests which are in line to-day may in the near future be in conflict. America’s attitude towards Japan is clear proof of how capitalist interests and sympathies change. On this point Nathaniel Peffer writes:—
“In the Russo-Japanese war, we were pro-Japanese to the point of sentimentality. Japan evicted Russia and took over its ambitions for hegemony in the Far East. Almost immediately, we began protesting against Japan’s actions in Manchuria, adumbrated schemes for neutralising or internationalising Manchurian railways, and in less than five years tensions had arisen between Japan and the United States. The tensions have never eased.” (See “Empire in the East,” edited by Joseph Barnes).
Within a Federal Union, rivalries might well lead to friction, withdrawals from the Union (just as from the League of Nations) and war. As Mr. Curry writes : —”The Federal Union may even have to face civil war, as the American Union had to face it” (p. 130).

We repeat that to end war, its cause must be abolished. Until capitalism is swept away, all the forces making for armed conflicts will be at work. Attempts to clamp down these forces by Federal Union would be doomed to failure.

We urge the working class, therefore, not to waste its time on Federal Union, which, leaving untouched the causes of war, cannot possibly put an end to it.

Only when capitalism has been overthrown and socialism established will the causes of war—production for profit, trade and commercial rivalries—be removed.

Other fallacies of Federal Union will be discussed in future articles.
Clifford Allen

A Bourgeois on Marxism. (1940)

From the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

“The fundamental fallacy of Marxism is the dogmatic assumption that men live by bread alone, and that ‘democracy’ can be expressed in terms of an enforced economic equality.”

So wrote Mr. Wickham Steed, ex-Editor of The Times, in an article on “Liberty and Property” (Reynolds’s News, 4/2/40) But he did not tell us where this assumption is to be gathered from Marx’s theories. Yet, judging by the number of times similar things have been said of Marxism, we feel that the old dictum—repetition is the mother of study—comes well within what has been described as man’s infinite capacity for telling lies. Repeat a thing over and over again, and what may be a myth will easily be accepted as established fact. It is well within the bounds of probability that Mr. Steed, and many another critic of Marxism, really knows different. If they are the well informed men they are supposed to be, they are unlikely to believe in the validity of their criticisms. It is far more probable that they feel an instinctive reaction to the suggestion of the break-up of the system from which they materially benefit. Anyway, the charge that Marxism implies our living by bread alone comes as a strange one from those who will defend a system which has contrived to reduce the mode of living of the actual producers of “bread” to little more than work, bread and bed. Maybe, because Marxism insists that the basis of all human society is economic, the above criticism derives its cause from that source. If this be the case, the objection to Marxism will have to be extended to all biological theory as well, for we humans are not alone in the animal kingdom in requiring the food supply as a primary condition of existence. But to put the widest interpretation on Mr. Steed’s statement, let us take it for granted that he concedes this fact. He might reasonably insist that man has long since shed his animality in that men are much more than biological organisms, that we have a widely different and more complex mode of being than that of the lower animals. Our question will still remain, where does Marxism deny such obvious facts ? There is only one answer that can be reasonably given—nowhere. Marxism, it should be understood, takes men as they are, for good or for bad, with all attributes of humanity, and seeks to explain the movements of human society in the past, with a view to laying a sound foundation for it in the future.

The whole of Marx’s theories led to the determination to secure a form of human society in which the great mass of mankind would be finally removed from a “bread alone” subsistence. Marx perceived that the economic foundation of society must be the primal factor for adjustment in the reconstruction of human social life on a Socialist basis. With this accomplished, the entire mode of living of humanity would follow from that foundation. It would prove, we think, an impossible task to find any great worker in the field of social science who realised more than Marx that human life is composed of a great number of things above those of economic considerations.

But Mr. Steed’s objections are based on the Marxian negation of private property. He says— “that without a modicum of private property neither personal freedom nor democratic government is possible.” But how much property it takes to make a “modicum” Mr. Steed does not say. What he does say, however, is that he realises that freedom is not absolute but relative. But what he may not realise so readily is that this relativity of freedom is largely conditioned by the strivings of men to stretch their personal freedom to an absolute.

Had men, or groups of men, gone about guided by nothing other than their own personal self-interest, it is certain that mankind could never have built up such vast and complex social communities we know in modern times; in fact, they could never have reached civilisation at all.

Human passions and desires need organisation and restraints if we are to live in any form of social system. Vico, “the father of the philosophy of history,” made an important contribution to human thought when he suggested that men’s vices rather than their virtues are the impelling forces which aid towards social union. As Vico puts it—
“Legislation takes man as he is to make of him a being adapted for human society. From ferocity, avarice and ambition—these three vices which lead men astray—it derives the army, commerce and the court, that is to say, the strength, wealth and knowledge of republics, and these great vices, capable of destroying the human race, create social felicity.”
The philosopher, Hegel, said something similar when he observed—
“One thinks he is saying something great if one says that mankind is by nature good, but it is forgotten one says something far greater in the words, ‘man is by nature evil’.”
The full significance of all this, we are compelled to believe, will be missed by our bourgeois critics of Marxism. Whilst neither Vico nor Hegel regarded vices and virtues from the conventional and traditional standpoint, they perceived that the make-up of human society is necessitated by the all-compelling need to curb human action from instinctive passions and desires. The question arises, what is the foundational factor upon which all human society turns ?

To the Marxist, the quest for the wherewithal to live, plus the means and methods of producing such, gives rise to the formation of all social relationships, including the vices and virtues of men and their concepts of freedom, justice and equality, their religions and their philosophies.

For the millionth time let it be stated that Marxism is no doctrine of economic determinism or fatalism. It is men, whole men, men with all their human characteristics, who make history from their action and reaction with their material surroundings. Hence arose our private property condition of society. But its rise did not bring a greater all round freedom. What it did accomplish was freedom for some and slavery for others: it gave us class struggles.

The expansion of private property brought in its trail the bond slavery of ancient times, the serfdom of the middle ages, and the wage-slavery of modern society.

The all-important point to notice is that throughout all these historic social changes, it is the few who have experienced freedom in proportion to their greater control of private property in the means of life.

Given the condition that the means of living are privately owned, it follows as a matter of course that economic subjection must result. Economic freedom must be the basis of all freedom. Whilst no Marxist denies that private property has effected a progressive influence in social development, the fact emerges that every advance in human society has seen a greater division between those who have property in the means of living and those who have not.

The Marxian sees that we have reached a stage n social development where this property condition has become a hindrance to real social progress. Not only do we experience poverty amidst plenty, but the character of present-day property ownership acts as a handicap against the greater volume of wealth we could produce were the productive forces freed from private ownership and control.

The Marxian proposes that such private property shall cease. If a real economic equality is to prevail, only social control of the world’s resources through Socialism can secure its success. There is no half-way house from the Marxian standpoint.

But what of Mr. Steed’s “modicum” of property? If he means that we may own our clothes, our furniture, our musical instruments, our drawings and paintings, together with many other things which human need and culture determine, then he need have no fears. Marxism does not include such property in its objectives. What the Marxian objects to is private property in those things which society as a whole needs, such as the land, mines, mills, railways, ships, and all other productive and distributive forces of social importance. Outside of these agencies of wealth production property confers no power of human exploitation, no power of economic and social subjection of the many by the few.

When Mr. Steed speaks of “democracy” being “expressed in terms of an enforced economic equality,” he must have in view, not the democratic aims of Marxism, but totalitarianism, which is a totally different matter.

His conception of democracy seems to extend no further than the limited form in which it is expressed to-day.

To Mr. Steed and most of the bourgeoisie, the democracy they fear will lapse with the triumph of Marxism is the form which permits the wage-slave to vote for his slavery, and to “voice” his demands, provided, of course, he does not demand too much from those who live by his exploitation.

As Marxians we appreciate even this limited form of democracy; it is of important value to our purpose. But our claim is that the highest democracy can only be attained when the basic condition of human society precludes the possibility of human exploitation through property ownership.

We would draw the attention of Mr. Steed to the following pronouncement of the founders of Marxism, namely, Marx and Engels :—”In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” This does not sound as though Marxism was intended as a denial of all democratic principles. But lest it be suggested that the above reference from Marx is nothing more than a form of words, sentiments which may fail to find material expression under Socialism, let us point out that, in the measure that the means of living are made the common property of the whole of the people, to that extent is the primal condition set to pave the way to the greatest freedom mankind can experience.
Robert Reynolds

SPGB Meetings, Lectures and Notices. (1940)

Party News from the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Ides of March. (1940)

From the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
“The Ides of March are come.
Ay, Caezar? but not gone” (Shakespeare).
Social change often begins in the spring. There is an inherent restlessness at this season of the year which at present is intensified to such an extent by the black-out, and other impositions which our masters have decided are necessary, that a “fed-up” feeling is becoming general.

The bewitching beauty of an Arctic sky canopies scenes of ghastly horror in the fairy land of Finland. Men, women and children are being blown to pieces, burnt to death, and even when horribly wounded gripped in the merciless fingers of an iron frost until petrified into icy carcases; these gruesome deeds being the result of an attempt, on the part of the workers perpetrating them to decide whether this or that brand of profit making shall survive. This land of loveliness, with its small fir Christmas trees, naturally decked, snow-gemmed and bejewelled, dancing stars, the peaceful moon and the Northern Lights, where sound is sacrilege in the awe-inspiring natural scene, is now turned into an inferno because one-sixth of the earth’s surface does not apparently satisfy “the only Socialist country in the world.” Oh! Socialism! what crimes are committed in thy name!

The United States is not supposed to be a direct participant in the war, but she is vitally interested in the peace. Should the war cease now, Hitler would be in a favourable position; he could start again advantageously after a breathing spell; therefore we may expect peace proposals, veiled or open, to emanate from Germany shortly; these are likely to come to nothing. The Presidential election taking place this fall in the land of Uncle Sam causes those interested in American politics to desire first-hand information regarding the situation in Europe. The visit of Mr. Welles is, therefore, of considerable interest to those who are influential in Government circles. It is well known that all branches of big business in God’s country do not see eye to eye with the President. If Roosevelt runs again there will be a clash between those who control the wealth of the United States and those exploiters who desire for themselves a more equitable distribution of it than prevails at the present time; the small fry of the capitalist group will at the end of the coming scrap be wiped out. American capital is striving to get a grip on Sweden; the Swedes are fully alive to the game that is being played, and for that reason refused to declare war on Russia in order to aid Finland. They are fully awakened to the perfidy of Moscow. They can understand also why certain bankers should be pro Stalin and other capitalist politicians pro Finn. The Swedes know the U.S.A. financiers. Sweden has no national debt to function as a vehicle to put money into moneylenders’ pockets, and, worse still from a ruling class standpoint, her working class are well organised. There is a threat here to the exploiter which he apparently cannot ignore. Should Sweden be drawn into a war, however, the working-class organisations may be dislocated. The capitalist class everywhere make the most of the opportunities a war gives them and during hostilities systematically work to weaken or destroy working-class movements. Could Sweden be drawn into a war, the Unions would be weakened at the end of it; education would cease while the war was on and the working class would emerge politically hamstrung, the movement in Sweden would be thrown back for a generation; the strange feature in this connection is that Stalin is aiding big business in the work of entrapping the workers of the Scandinavian countries into a position where they can be crushed. Stalin cannot afford to have on his borders a working-class movement becoming alive to the real fundamentals of its class position.

* * * * * *

The Lion’s Cubs have responded to their parents’ call and many working men have left their homes in the Dominions overseas to take their place in the battle line; the old boy considering all should be in order before he makes his spring. Whether he lands on the Russian Bear or the German Eagle, he is going to make fur or feather or both fly shortly; this will cause certain organisations in the country to imitate the mole and others to dissolve their revolutionary ardour upon the capitalist breast of patriotism.

The Pyramids of Egypt have looked down upon many strange happenings and have often figured as a setting for the stage of world events; civilisations and empires have come and gone, but these works of the slaves of old defy all revolutions and challenge the hand of time. Napoleon and Caezar before him made their entrances and their exits without making any impression upon these colossal monuments, and therefore it is hoped the writer will not be considered disrespectful when he points out that the visit of Mr. Anthony Eden to this ancient land is not likely to set the Nile on fire or to cause the Pyramids to topple.

The bottleneck of the Empire has to be safeguarded and, although not broadcast, it is an open secret that the Arab Federation will play a strong hand in what is about to unfold in the Near East.

It is interesting to note how social production has linked up the peoples of the world; in a war this is glaringly revealed. Britain must not only think of the Suez, but of Mesopotamia, and in fact the world; no nation can live to itself, and not even an Empire so vast as the British can be independent of the rest of the planet. The ties that bind are economic and cannot be broken; the peoples of the world are forced into unity by the development of the system itself. The workers are now called upon to realise they have no country, but are of a class: a class that must make the world a Socialist world—that is their job.

The news spread by the exploiters’ Press, or piped over the ether, is, in the main, what it is considered we should believe; we listen to our master’s voice like the dog in the picture and, naturally, as a consequence most wage slaves subconsciously absorb ruling class ideas and make them their own; the exceptions are considered eccentric and are often designated by their fellows as “batty”; the unearthing of the truth is a difficult task even in normal times, and, now the war is on, to make matters worse, organisations are appearing on every hand whose sole function is to prevent it from being discovered. This being the case, when our masters or their henchmen draw our attention to the north, it is best to look in the south; when they point to the east we should turn our gaze to the west. Never forget, even when war is on, the capitalist class live by exploiting the working class, and they would a thousand times rather lose any war in which they may be temporarily engaged than lose their power to make us work for their permanent benefit.

The aged poor continue to accelerate their journey to the grave by trying to live on the miserable pittance they tremblingly receive.

The extension of the war to the Balkans and the Near East is probable. Egypt is the pivot upon which may turn many spectacular events: she is a vital connection between the Near and the Far East, Palestine, Turkey, Irak, Iran, Afghanistan, and later the whole world will soon feel the dislocating shock of the clash of rival capitalist interests. Blood will flow, and all to no purpose; the economic problem that the system has evolved cannot be solved without destroying the system itself, and this is not our masters’ object; they are at war because they think war, for what they want, is essential to enable capitalism to function. There can be no improvement for our class until we decide to take political action with a view to establishing a new form of society. We should aim at ending exploitation by removing the cause of it. The cause is capitalist ownership and production for profit. The cure is common ownership and production for use. The people in common must own that upon which they in common depend.

During the progress of the war we can expect our masters to make the most of their opportunities to further subjugate us. We must resist every attempt in this connection. Attempts will also be made to lower real wages by financial legerdemain. The working class must be put on their guard. The capitalist class do all the “paying,” but the working class do all the producing. Everything necessary to the carrying on of the war will be produced by the workers, the capitalist class will not produce anything.

The Capitalists will do their “paying” out of the profits they make by exploiting the working class.

During the war the capitalist class will loan to the Government a portion of their profits: this gives them a mortgage on the future production of the working class.

After the war the Government will “owe” the capitalist class countless millions. It will then be discovered that social services, wages, etc., must be cut to the bone in order to meet the interest on what is owing. This is the reward of the working class.

Now is the Ides of March; will there be any stirring in the minds of the workers ? The old timers will look everywhere for signs; they will recall those inspiring periods in working-class history when the deeds of the toilers lent hope to what is to come.

The triumph of Socialism is inevitable, and although “fate or insufficiency may provide mean ends for men who are what they would be,” still we have our consolation.

We know that we are working in the noblest cause that ever appealed to the world or to man.
Charles Lestor

Why Economise? (1940)

From the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

“The road which we have to tread is that of stern service and sacrifice.” Thus writes the Daily Telegraph leader writer (January 10th, 1940) in amplificatory approval of Chamberlain’s Mansion House speech. ChamberIain is further quoted as stating: “We have got to do without a lot of things we shall miss very much.” Less money must be spent on sugar and butter. Approval is also given to the statement of Sir John Simon, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that “you can’t finance a great war by soaking the rich.” This prepares the way for what follows: “To tie wages to the cost of living so closely that spending can go on as in peace time will give us the vicious spiral of the last war, which ultimately benefited no-one.”

On the page following the above-mentioned article is a Harrods’ advertisement, which says: “Now, more than ever, you need bargains in wines and spirits.” You can get a dozen bottles of 1924 brandy for nine quid (usual price £9 12s.). Whisky is slightly cheaper at £8 5s., or you can get a dozen bottles of 1933 Barsac for as little as £2 16s. Cigars also are going cheap at £5 7s. 6d. the hundred.

You see, now there is a war on, even the poor rich have to economise and look around for bargains in wines and spirits.

It is possible, however, that a large number of the readers of the Daily Telegraph, in their hurry to get to the back pages, where cheap jobs are advertised, may have missed the foregoing advertisement, about which this much must be said—that experienced capitalist concerns do not spend large sums on advertising unless there is reasonable certainty of a substantial return. Hence we can well imagine Colonel Try-it-on and Major Soak-it-up over their whisky-and-splash approvingly endorsing the Chancellor’s remark that “you can’t finance a great war by soaking the rich.”

Of course, we admit that the capitalists have got a bit of a problem on in running this war. War, unfortunately for them, is an expensive business. But if the workers can be induced to lie low, and not be too troublesome about asking for more wages to meet a higher cost of living, cut down their butter and sugar, and so on, it might not prove so expensive after all. Hence the necessity of “stern service and sacrifice” in order that “freedom and justice and the dignity of human life shall not perish from the earth.” Need we say that included amongst those who share the “dignity of human life” are the “hard core”—the 240,000 workers who have been unemployed for over 12 months? The majority of these, needless to say, have been retaining their dignity, not on butter, but on margarine—and probably unvitaminised at that, as, for the information of the unsophisticated, unvitaminised marge is slightly cheaper than that containing the vital elements. The dignified “hard core,” however, are going to be looked after—”steps are to be taken by the Government to speed up their absorption into industry.”—(Daily Telegraph Industrial Correspondent, January 10th, 1940.)

Obviously, what is concerning the minds of the capitalists is that, with everybody employed, workers will be asking, insisting on, and succeeding in getting, higher wages. Hence the dim foreshadowing of some means or measure to arrest the process.

Whilst the sectional struggle between the capitalist Powers has taken on the form of armed warfare, the economic warfare between capitalists and workers, between rulers and ruled, continues from official peace time into official war time, with this difference, that when a war is on, owing to the elimination of the competition of the unemployed, the scales are weighted in favour of the workers. Hence the concern of our capitalist masters over the wages question and their attempt to drum into the ears of the workers the necessity of “doing without a lot of things they will miss very much,” and the statement that the “wealthier classes have had to make large reductions in standards of living.”
R. Milborne

The New Czardom. (1940)

From the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

The tragedy of the working class lies in its susceptibility to loud demagogy. This is due not alone to the orthodox capitalist press, but is supplemented by the Labour and Communist parties. Having been worked up to a frenzy for a few years in defence of “democracy” and against “aggression,” they were made ripe for the war against “Hitlerism ” and for “democracy.” Mass demonstrations, united-front conferences and thousands of meetings to fight Hitler were the order of the day and night. These were supplemented by meetings to save “Spain” or “Abyssinia,” “China and the Czechs,” but always the villain of the piece was Hitler. As the British Government did not seem to be in a hurry to make war on Germany, the Communist party and its satellites demanded “Chamberlain must go,” and Churchill or Eden must come in. This would be no use either as a change, unless Britain and France formed an A.R.P.—Anglo-Russian Pact.

To bring this about was the task of Litvinoff. Having failed, he was thrown on the scrap heap and new methods employed—namely, the direct visit of British representatives. In entering these negotiations Russia was playing both ends against the middle. She was prepared to support whichever side gave her the best bargain. The tragedy of it all is the term “Socialist” Russia.

To the uninitiated worker “Socialism” now stands for pillage and plunder, territorial aggrandisement and an unholy alliance with Nazi Germany. As a result, the task of teaching Socialism has become so much more difficult. More than ever must we point out the capitalist nature of Russia. In her imperialist exploits Russia has not even found new excuses, but has used the time-honoured ones of all capitalist Powers. Her excuse for the attack upon Poland (particularly Ukraine) was the need to rescue her Slav brethren—the blood-brotherhood of Nazi Aryanism. In the later attack upon Finland this gag could not work (the Finns being of Mongol stock), so the Finns became an outpost of Western capitalism—the very capitalism with which she was seeking an alliance, and with the French half of which she already had an alliance.

It is useless for Russia and her “choirboys” in Britain to point to Japan in China, Italy in Abyssinia and Albania, or Germany in Austria and Czechoslovakia, and say “What about them?” Russia claimed all along to stand for the OPPOSITE to these gangsters, and claims to be a SOCIALIST country. We are therefore entitled to judge her from the STANDARDS she HERSELF set. We always repudiated her claim to be Socialist. Socialism does not include the wages system and political suppression, but Russia does. The Red Army, representing 160 millions, shows its teeth against a four-million country, but even so the Russian Bear couldn’t squeeze them overnight. This will be Russia’s nemesis. Whilst remaining neutral, Russia was able to keep off any intending attacker. She had built up a belief outside her borders in her invulnerability, her strength (and weakness) were unknown, and she had the other Powers guessing. The Powers now are likely to take a lower view of Russia’s military strength, and will alter their attitude accordingly. Russia has therefore only piled up difficulties for herself. She cannot now rally foreign opinion to her defence on the plea of “democracy,” as her own colleagues, the League, have declared her an aggressor and kicked her out. We Socialists will continue to expose her claims to Socialism, by teaching what Socialism IS. When the workers do understand Socialism they will see through this fraud called Russia.
Lew Jones

Obituary: Comrade A. S. Collinson. (1940)

Obituary from the March 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is with deep regret that we have to record another gap in the ranks of the Party.

This time caused by the passing of our comrade, A. S. Collinson, and once again the loss of one of the hardest and most conscientious workers the Party has known.

Comrade Collinson was a good organiser and spared neither time nor energy to give of his best to the Party in this direction.

He joined the Socialist Party in 1919 and soon made his mark, first as branch secretary and very shortly after as Party lecture secretary. While he held this post he initiated the first attempt to place the lecture report on a statistical basis, with the view of ascertaining the value of the various propaganda stations run by the Party. Up to the outbreak of the war his system of reporting on this branch of the Party’s work had been adhered to. During this time he also engaged in outdoor propaganda in a very useful manner, although physically not fitted for the job.

He was next elected to the Executive Committee and was a consistent member until four or five years prior to his death.

During this period of office he became Party General Secretary, and was then responsible for the setting up of a General Purposes Committee under his control.

This committee took charge of all Head Office work, including the literature department, and carried out their job in a very effective manner.

It was our late comrade’s ambition to organise the Party activity in such a way that every branch was linked up with Head Office by means of its officials. That all branch officials periodically attended meetings at Head Office to discuss difficulties and exchange ideas, under the personal supervision of the General Secretary.

Our comrade did not achieve his ambition, and to some extent this engendered in him a feeling of frustration.

He was a rigid disciplinarian and exacted from himself strict adherence to all rulings laid down by the Party, and further he expected the same from other comrades.

He often fell out with the more happy-go-lucky who were careless enough to transgress in these matters. In spite of this he was respected and admired by all.

He was forced by ill-health to relinquish the post of G.S. and later his seat on the E.C.

The last five or six years of his work were seriously marred by the complaint which brought about his death. Yet up to the beginning of this winter he filled one of the most arduous posts in the Party, namely, that of secretary of the Central Branch, in an efficient manner.

It can be written of him that he was a cheerful worker and a hard fighter. One who was always prepared to give more than he asked in return. We find it hard to replace men like him.
F. C. A.